Disruption, Disinformation, Division — A Preview Of What Rahul Gandhi’s Tenure As LoP Might Look Like

Anmol Jain

Jul 03, 2024, 02:53 PM | Updated 03:59 PM IST

Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi.
  • Rahul Gandhi’s tenure as Leader of Opposition is likely to include barrage of lies and misinformation.
  • Monday (1 July) was a lively day in Parliament as the green-horn Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi spoke on the motion of thanks for President’s address.

    The stormy debate that followed saw several rejoinders from the treasury benches led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Union ministers.

    As Rahul Gandhi spoke, the dignity and seriousness that the post of the Leader of Opposition demands were missing. Instead, what was on display were grave lies and mischaracterisations.

    While Rahul Gandhi’s use of placards and remarks on Hindus caused uproar, inside as well as outside Parliament, what gives a glimpse into his modus operandi are his multiple misrepresentations, including on Agniveer and minimum support price (MSP).

    As a fifth-term MP, twice as part of the ruling coalition and twice in opposition before this term, this is the first time Rahul Gandhi is finally holding an office of responsibility. His enthusiasm was apparent, but responsibility was missing.

    Anyone who has observed Rahul Gandhi’s speeches in Parliament, over the last decade, will struggle to find any improvement in substance. Sure, there was a visible uptick in the (over) confidence, indiscipline, rhetoric, and most dangerously, lies.

    Rahul Gandhi’s speech is reflective of how his tenure as the Leader of Opposition might look like. That the future holds a barrage of lies, misinformation, and propaganda is a given as these tactics have gifted the opposition increased numbers in the lower house.

    It is amply clear that Rahul Gandhi is vastly overestimating his and his party’s performance in the Lok Sabha, where it failed to touch 100 seats for a third straight election.

    While the surge in confidence is understandable given Congress' better-than-expected performance, it is now bordering on arrogance. Not that arrogance did not exist before, but this time it is backed by a false sense of victory against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    During the entirety of his speech, Rahul Gandhi was speaking with his back towards the Speaker. To him, it was a rhetorical address to his own benches than the Speaker, as the parliamentary conduct demands.

    In videos that have emerged, the Leader of the Opposition appears to be signalling to opposition MPs to create disruption as the Prime Minister speaks.

    But Rahul Gandhi's disregard for Parliament's rules is no surprise given his prior antics — the forceful hug to the PM, the eye winks, the flying kisses — and a sense of entitlement for being the scion of the Gandhi clan. It is likely that this attitude will be on display more often than not going forward.

    Despite the setback in the 2024 elections, BJP and PM Modi, being the crafty tacticians that they are, will let this unfold.

    In the parliamentary meeting with NDA MPs before his reply in the Lok Sabha, PM Modi specifically asked the MPs to be disciplined in the house. He urged NDA MPs to avoid the behaviour exhibited by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in Lok Sabha.

    The BJP will wait for Rahul Gandhi to land himself in soup as he’s done on countless occasions — most recently with his remarks on Hindus and the disruption he tried to create in the house.

    Apart from stalling the house, it is also quite clear that another strategy would be to double down on the attempts at overcoming the consolidation of Hindus by using caste and tropes like jitni abadi utna haq. And while the jury is out on the efficacy of this in the Lok Sabha polls, the damage to BJP is undeniable.

    This will be complemented by the consolidation of minority votes. While this might upset its allies like CPI(M) in Kerala and Trinamool Congress in Bengal, the attempts at this will only get shriller.

    Outright disinformation is part of the strategy too. For instance, consider Congress’ relentless attack on even stray problems of infrastructure. Even the most bitter critics agree that this is one sector where BJP’s performance has been stellar. Running it down seems to be a priority for Congress, as is clear from the relentless misinformation on roof collapse at Delhi’s IGI Airport.

    National security is yet another strong fort of BJP. A ruckus is being created on Agniveer based on falsehoods to hurt the ruling party’s image on national security. Rahul Gandhi’s incorrect claim in Parliament on Agniveer recruits getting no compensation on being killed in action was corrected by the Raksha Mantri himself. And yet, Gandhi doubled down on it.

    Clearly, facts don’t matter for Rahul Gandhi and the Congress, given that misinformation helped them restrict the BJP's tally to 240.

    Get Swarajya in your inbox.